This chapter explores the importance of diversity and interfaith initiatives in human rights and bioethics education, by showing its relevance in the study of the Holocaust. In the first section, a concise reference is made to those political and religious events that created the basic state and theological groundwork, respectively, which in turn led to the early formation of human rights and the confessional dialogue. The second section emphasizes contemporary actions and writings that contributed to the denial of freedom and of self-determination, including anti-Judaic sermons and their perversion into anti-Semitic ones. The third section discusses the creation after the Holocaust of global organizations and institutions, their international impact and modern developments in interfaith interaction focusing on human rights and bioethics. The fourth section presents educational, multicultural, and inter-religious initiatives that contribute decisively to the increase of awareness and awakening of learners, so that the field of education is transformed into a multidimensional place that generates world citizens.
Within the field of education, the Holocaust is often documented as a topic that concerns exclusively modern Jewish and European political history. It is precisely this concentrated political position, which is itself a notable boundary that reduces the pedagogical significance of the study of this dark chapter of human existence and ultimately diminishes it in the eyes of both educators and pupils by including it in curricula as simply another historical event among many (Gallin and Bedzow 2019). Yet, this need not be the case. Study of the Holocaust may also include investigation of its impact on an interreligious and intercultural level. The emergence of this aspect within education is a particularly important development, because, on the one hand, it concerns the institutional dialogue between countries and the theoretical dialogue between religions around the world and, on the other hand, it determines and influences the internal dialogue of the citizens regarding their participation in increasingly multicultural modern societies.
15.2 Diversity and Interfaith Interaction Before the Holocaust
15.2.1 Diversity as a Human Right
Central Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries experienced its greatest religious controversy: in the aftermath of the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s night in Paris in 1592—an event that directly challenged the monarchy as a justifiable form of government justification for the first time—the theological confrontations of the reformationFootnote 1 and counter-reformationFootnote 2 of the sixteenth century ended with the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). The site of the hostility was the region of present-day southern Germany and its environs. Conflicting political demands in an unstable environment with an ever-evolving political map created vast reallocations of lands and peoples. It was characteristic of that time that local rulers, depending on their aspirations, would direct or appropriate large groups of Christian believers, who, divided by the new ecclesiastical fissures, either remained faithful to the prevailing Roman Catholic teaching or opposed it by supporting what they deemed a superior or remonstrating doctrine (Sutherland 1992).
The ideas of the Enlightenment that were gaining ground in Europe ushered in a novel naturalistic and humanitarian philosophy, with wider socio-political implications (Gauthier 2015). Correspondingly, there arose a tendency to demarcate purely nationalistic states using a new governmental model (Chengdan 2010). Due to the emerging social conditions, parliamentary government began to emerge in lieu of monarchism. These new regimes were now based on the principle of separation of powers. In these administrations, an elected parliamentary body assumed the legislative authority of the monarch. In keeping with the ideals of inalienable and natural human rights that were born from Enlightenment philosophy, certain rights would now be guaranteed either by a social contract or constitutionally. These were the rights to life, property, equality before the law, unfettered economic activity, unrestricted freedom of thought and expression, freedom of religion, and the pursuance of one’s education.
These Enlightenment principles were the basis of The Declaration of Independence of the United States, ratified on July 4, 1776, and affirmed in its Constitution and Bill of Rights, which guaranteed protection of human rights (Banchetti 2012). Its direct effect prompted the respective adoption and enshrinement of human rights by almost every new state in the Western world. The United States had taken these first steps, acting legislatively, and implementing the earlier Enlightenment notions that for decades were cultivated on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Owing to the pluralistic structure of their state’s organization, which did not recognize a long-standing ethnos or ethnic nationality as the dominant societal factor, the United States were a model for other nations to prioritize diversity over entrenched national, racial, and religious unilateralism. Specifically, the establishment of the United States presented a tangible impetus to the consolidation of human rights, to interfaith interaction, and to the inclusion of all people (with glaring exceptions). As a state with such qualitative demographic characteristics and guaranteed rights, among other values, it provided coexistence—and therefore interaction—of the heterogeneous population, freedom—and thus diversity—of faith.
The promotion and recognition of the right to diversity and of freedom of belief—despite its acceptability in today’s context—does not indicate that, in practice, the circumstances, traditional morals, and prejudices exceeded their times. The degradation and enslavement of the Black community (Hall 1988), the murder of Native Americans, the denial of women’s rights, and the prevalence of puritanism within society are examples of the perceptive narrow-mindedness of those whose freedom society was prepared to accept. However, from an historical perspective, it was the first decisive step that inspired the gradual recognition of additional rights, at least more than was previously accepted and expected.
Consequently, a unique multicultural event occurred about a century after the safeguarding of human rights in the country. The World’s Columbian Exposition, held in 1893 in Chicago on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, was hosted by the World’s Parliament of Religions, to which many representatives of different religions of the country were invited. Although it was a local event and did not correspond to what we now call interfaith dialogue, it contained strong elements of diversity and intercultural communication and responded to American society’s texture, which was representatively reflected (Buonomo 2014). This, one could say, was the first sign that a different, novel reality had already begun to take shape,Footnote 3 one that defined new occurrences of multicultural reconstruction and unprecedented composition of the society that birthed it.
15.2.2 The Beginnings of Modern Interfaith Interaction
Within the Eastern Orthodox Christian world, upon those lands under the spiritual custody of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Eastern and Southern Europe, extreme nationalism was prevalent in the nineteenth century. Influenced by earlier Enlightenment thinking and the political developments of the 1800s, a tendency toward separatist division and self-government of peers arose, derived from claims of ethnic difference. Responding to this tendency of isolationism and discrimination by racial and linguistic criteria, the Ecumenical Patriarchate convened the Synod of Constantinople in 1872. With this Synod, the Orthodox Church became the first Christian Church that officially and unequivocally condemned the phenomenon of Phyletism, i.e., the conflation between church and nation. Its verdicts condemned the divisive and essentially prejudicial tendency to accept only those of similar ethnic background as spiritual kin and, using that flawed criterion, to demand the formation of an ethnically-linked religious hierarchy and church structure, thereby excluding from it those of distinctive ethnicities, even if they were members of the same faith.Footnote 4
This pronouncement bore the characteristics (within the scope of that time period) of an innovative leap for the now multinational and renewed ecumenical restoration of the inner unity of faith that must, and does, distinguish the members of a religious community, regardless of their ethnic origin. The Eastern Orthodox Church officially stressed that a distinctive human ethnicity is by no means a trait capable of isolating or separating another bonding dimension: the spiritual unity of all people. If this presently comprises a pioneering transcendence, it proved all-the-more so during the era of the creation of purely homogeneous nation states that identified with a particular culture, language, and religion. The obstacles to racial, ethnic, and linguistic differentiation were now subject to the universality of the unity of faithFootnote 5 “on the basis of the spiritual content of (one) Baptism,” as was inimitably interpreted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.Footnote 6 The result was to ensure an overarching unity that abolished national borders and concurrently surpassed the disruptive and divisive consequences that ethnic nationalism was attempting to provoke.
If the U.S. Constitution was the principal Temporal motivator, which constitutionally guaranteed human rights for its citizens and recognized their right to diversity and free religious expression based on political and philosophical grounds, then the decisions of the Synod of 1872 that took place in Constantinople constituted the first canonically articulated synodical and ecclesiastical Spiritual resolution based on theological grounds. The decision removed the phenomenon of the then-emerging racial and intercultural discrimination and condemnation from its faithful.
Thirty-eight years following the decisions made in Constantinople, the Christian Ecumenical Movement took place in 1910 in Protestant England, which was considered by many scholars to be a forerunner of the creation of the Faith and Order movement. Its aim was to achieve convergence in matters related to order and faith. The movement’s first international conference took place in Lausanne on August 3, 1927 (Hietamäki 2015), with the participation of 108 Protestant and Orthodox Churches.Footnote 7
Correspondingly, a similar movement had already begun to take shape within the wider Protestant Churches. During the World War I, the Churches, being unable to act and express their positions rationally and unilaterally, realized that they were unlikely to be able to wait for the first achievement of a bilateral unity of faith through the Faith and Order movement (Rowdon 1967). Thus, as a result of the war, the World Alliance of Churches for Promoting International Friendship of the Protestant Churches in 1914 proved the precursor and ideological foundation of the later established Movement for Life and Work in Stockholm on August 19, 1925 (Smit 2003), again with Protestants and Orthodox participation. This new move allowed the Churches to act jointly and to take a stand on practical social issues without the need for prior theological convergence. After successive meetings of their members in Oxford and Edinburgh, these two movements (Faith and Order and Life and Work) decided to merge into a single body in 1937, the World Council of Churches, and to schedule its first international conference in 1941. However, due to World War II, this conference was not realized until 1948 in Amsterdam (World Council of Churches 2013).
The interactive model of the new, single body revolved around three recognized directions: understanding the meaning of life (Dialogue of the Head), empathy of the spirit and expression of the other (Dialogue of the Heart), and participatory action intended to make the earth a better place to live (Dialogue of the Hands) (Swidler 2013). Hence, by effectively disconnecting the concept of joint actions from the prevalent form of theological agreement and unity, a new way of coexistence, filled with life and movement, was founded, and based especially on the more appropriate and feasible application of common values.Footnote 8
15.3 The Rejection of Multiculturalism Under the Nazi Regime
15.3.1 The Exploitation of Apologetic Sermons
Preceding the Holocaust, various anti-Zionist hate-speeches led by religious leaders were circulated at the local level within Germany (Sanzenbacher 2010). The negative perception and targeting of the Jews, including the pronouncement of Jews as undesirable and harmful to the interests of society did not originate exclusively from the lips and pen of Nazis but also from leading Christian circles with singular standing and influence. Nazi propaganda has roots in the writings and reception of Von den Juden und ihren Lügen (On the Jews and their lies) by the pioneer of the Reformation, Martin Luther (Nicolaides 2018). The text, written in 1543, illuminates the prevalent hostility towards Jews which was ultimately one of the factors that led to the Holocaust.Footnote 9 Luther’s outlandish characterizations of the Jews includes statements such as, “[…] we do not know to the present day which devil brought them into our country,” and “[p]roof for this is found in the fact that they have often been expelled forcibly from a country, far from being held captive in it” (Luther 2009, 74 and 75). He also accused them of creating the financial difficulties and the general hardship experienced by the local communities in Germany.
Equally characteristic is the anti-Semitic sentiment held by the region’s Roman Catholics in the decades before the Holocaust. This can be found both in the statements of Roman Catholic leaders and the famous “silence” of Pope Pius XII during the Nazi uprising (Ericksen 2013), in which he neither explicitly condemned nor publicly censured Nazi practices but reportedly tolerated the active participation of his Cardinals implicated in similar atrocities, such as in Croatia (Shelton 1983–84). Consistently, there are many such cases of “complicity” within the clerical and theological ranks, whose attitudes encouraged the policies of the Nazi regime.Footnote 10
Clearly, silence and historic polemical religious apologetics, having deviated from their theological core, caused social polarization and controversy, and tarnished the conscience of the faithful. This religious perversion and its exploitation by Nazi propaganda demonstrate how dangerous politicized religious discourse can be to the body politic.
15.4 Rights and Interfaith Interaction After the Holocaust
15.4.1 Post-Holocaust Human Rights and Bioethics
The post-World War II world, shocked by the atrocities it had experienced, became determined to learn from the recent tragedy and prevent the recurrence of such a phenomenon. After it had once again been demonstrated within a short time frame that a local war can take on global dimensions, the necessity of instituting collective guidelines for preemptive deterrence became evident. This, of course, required the creation of a new code of ethics: a commonly accepted human rights charter that could inhibit the repetition of another world war and another Holocaust (Araujo 2000).
The result of this international recognition for a new ethical order was the founding of the United Nations. In 1945, in San Francisco, the first General Assembly issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, declaring that respect for human rights and human freedom “… is the cornerstone of freedom, justice, peace and dignity in the world” (UN General Assembly 1948). It was the first time in history that the international community adopted a text with universally recognized value. The first two articles of the Universal Declaration unambiguously declare the recognition of equal dignity and rights for all, without any discrimination based on race, color, sex, language, religion, or any other criterion. Such protections were born from the atrocities of the war and the need to protect the rights of everyone. This is indicative of the consciousness of the international community following World War II, a recognition that the devastation which had just occurred was not merely a war of expanding national interest, but it was also an intercultural war, born of a “spiritual racism” (Evola, qtd. in Staudenmaier 2020, n. 15) in which self-appointed Aryans, attributing superiority to their genetic characteristics, attempted to undermine general human value and individuality. This supremacist ethos culminated in the genocide of the Jewish population at the hands of the Nazi Party. A new global conscience was aroused following this unparalleled abuse of human beings, leading to a collective urgency to define the rights of every individual human.
The pivotal Nuremberg trials followed the war’s end, which sought to bring justice and punish the perpetrators of the war crimes. Unique among them was the Doctors’ Trial (United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al., 1946). In this trial, the main categories of crimes against humanity were defined as “the conducting of medical experiments, without the consent of the subject, to prisoners of war, citizens of occupied countries with disabilities and participation in the mass murder of prisoners held in concentration camps” (Moll et al. 2012, 79). The role of doctors, medical staff, and medical science had been transformed from having as its purpose the care of patients to becoming a machine of involuntary death.Footnote 11 Many of the victims were exploited like guinea pigs in medical laboratories run by the Nazi regime, where, abusively and against any accepted notions of medical ethics, they forced their prisoners to be part of painful, torturous and horrific involuntary experiments, including historically known forms of torture and forced labor (Grodin and Annas 2007).Footnote 12 Moreover, an estimated 200,000 inmates endured the abominable Aktion T-4 eugenics program, a model and precursor to the mass killings in the concentration camps. The pretext for the program was to preserve Germany’s so-called genetic purity. As a result of the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Descendants (Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses), “[m]any doctors envisioned this as an opportunity to influence the ‘regeneration’ of the German nation by eradicating those with ‘biologically inferior hereditary traits’ in order to ‘cleanse the genetic pool of the German race’” (Chelouche and Brahmer 2013, 26). This included the “undesirable” elements of the population living in Germany, including the disabled and the mentally ill, who, in many cases, had undergone compulsory sterilization.
Following the war, a question thus arose as to whether only politicians who recruited and issued orders were to be held accountable, or if the doctors and nurses who carried out these actions in complete disregard of the Hippocratic Oath were equally responsible for causing irreparable harm and even death to those who were deemed unfit according (Miller and Gallin 2019). As a result, the Nuremberg Code was created to develop a more conscious ethical approach as to how clinical research should be executed. In it were introduced unique fundamental bioethical principles, such as the necessity of informing and securing the patient’s consent, considering the possibility of death or injury as a deterrent to any experiment, enabling the patient to discontinue the experiment at any stage if they wish, and the requirement for doctors to act conscientiously. The goal of the Nuremberg Code, much like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was to protect the rights of the individual and to ensure that the abuse of power and the violations of human rights perpetrated by the Nazis was never repeated.
15.4.2 Holocaust and the Modern Way of Interfaith Interaction and Dialogue
The current organization of religious dialogue has undoubtedly been prompted by the bloody events of the two world wars. There is, though, a delicate parameter, a differentiation stemming from the woes of the World War II in particular. Succeeding the new approach launched by the United Nations and following the Second Vatican Council (Nov. 1962 to Aug. 1965), the Roman Catholic Church, through the famous Nostra Aetate (1965), officially expressed a positive attitude towards Orthodox-Protestant dialogue, from which it had so far abstained and called for its extension into interfaith dialogue. The first non-Christian religion invited to dialogue in 1964 was Judaism, and its response was immediate and positive (Swidler 2013). Immediately, Protestants and Orthodox leaders, and almost the entire Christian world, applauded the initiative. The Christian world equally began to cultivate relations with Judaism within the new, revised framework, which it had also applied within its own dialogues. The rapprochement with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism followed. Through the acceptance and meeting of these distinct religions, modern global interfaith dialogue was inaugurated for the first time in the post-war era by religious leaders. Historically, this peaceful meeting of Christianity and Judaism proved to be a milestone of the foundation and establishment of all subsequent interfaith groups and forms of dialogue on issues of understanding, joint action, and respect (Head-Hands-Heart Dialogues).
What, one may ask, led the Roman Catholic Church toward Judaism in their appeal for interfaith dialogue? The officially recognized reason—a shared religious ancestry—has many elements of truth, of course, but it may not be sufficient. One could contrast the equally valid shared tradition of Christianity and Islam, whose lands were also targeted by Nazis and moreover, still held the cradle of Christianity, Jerusalem. As analyzed above, both the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds were stigmatized by the prevalent cultivation of anti-Judaism and antisemitism, which was masterfully employed by the Nazi propaganda and was corrupted and catastrophically realized within German-occupied Europe (American Jewish Committee 1965). Previous anti-Judaic rhetoric and the present silence during the war took on such a dimension that it led to the greatest selective genocide, not of a state against another hostile state, but of a state against an internal group of its citizens (which were not a foreign ethnic remnant of a hostile state, had no absolute aspirations toward the detriment of national sovereignty, and boasted an historical presence well before the establishment of the post-World War I German state).
Though others recognized and enjoyed their self-evident rights, an opposing self-consciousness, differing faith, and non-renunciation of the right to self-determination of Jews were the very grounds of the Jews’ condemnation. Thus, what followed was the pursuit of their total disappearance, culminating in the Holocaust (Maroudas 2019). Anti-Semitic sermons existed prior to the Holocaust, yet their content remained unaltered throughout the next centuries. World War I, which geographically occurred on almost the same battlefield as the succeeding World War, did not alter the subsequent attitude of the Churches of Western Europe towards the pre-cultivated, intolerant rhetoric against Jews. Thus, the generative cause of Interreligious Dialogue was not the product of a new consciousness that emerged as an historical necessity from the outbreak of a global war, in which states collided with states. Christian religious leaders united their voices only after the fact.
From a theological perspective, World War I had no religious veneer of justification. World War II, however, donned a religious character. Absent the Churches, the political decisions of a fascist ideology sought to cause division: the non-conforming and dissimilar Jews had to disappear from Christian lands once and for all. As a result, the decisive generative cause of modern interfaith dialogue was both the guiltFootnote 13 and the debt of post-war Christian Europe for allowing the Holocaust.Footnote 14 The awareness of the heinous injustices committed and the burden of knowing that religious words instigated the catastrophe, the inaction and indirect participation in their targeting, and the alibis created by the previously polarized relations and the social marginalization based on their perception as enemies of the prevailing faith—in short, the realization that Christian dogma and tradition fell prey to the Nazi propaganda machine caused Christian leaders to see the great need for engagement with Jews to prevent theologically grounded division and dehumanization from ever occurring again (Nicolaides 2018).
The Holocaust was the catalyst for a new interfaith spiritual movement that brought together the alienated and entrenched religions, which had previously been content with their dogmatic autonomy (Nicolaides 2018). The resulting interfaith dialogues developed rapidly.
15.4.3 Holocaust and a New Interfaith Awakening as It Relates to Bioethical Issues
Vatican II both recognized the need for an incorporated interfaith dialogue in its proceedings which shows how impactful the Holocaust was in the change to nterfaith rather than interdenominational Christian dialogue. It informed the common values of ethics, and it also helped to harmonize theology with the pulse and occurrences of the modern world. These are typical topics considered by the Synod for religious dialogue: “The problems that weigh heavily on the hearts of humans are the same today as in ages past. What is man? What is the meaning and purpose of life? What is upright behavior, and what is sinful? Where does suffering originate, and what end does it serve? How can genuine happiness be found? What happens at death? What is judgment? What follows death? And finally, what is the ultimate mystery, beyond human explanation?” (Nostra Aetate 1965). We observe the classical nature of these ethical topics, while reference to the newer bioethical questions is absent.
Paradoxically, in the era that was proposing to build nterfaith dialogue, the traditional topics of bioethics seemed not be included as part of the discussion or, at least, was not emphatically highlighted, even though many new bioethical questions had arisen. Issues of a bioethical nature always occupied theological thought (abortions, suicide, cremation, euthanasia, killing of people with chronic disabilities, etc.). However, the Holocaust has many bioethical examples that speak to not only medicine and bioethics but humanity itself where individual autonomy was completely disregarded. Another important aspect was the dismissal of one’s freedom to accept or reject the treatments and techniques provided for reasons of religious conscience (Kolman and Miller 2018).
The violation of personhood that took place during the Holocaust when Jews were coerced to act contrary to their personal and religious tenets, including the unlawful disposing of one’s corpse, highlighted the necessity for discussion prioritizing respect for one’s personal religious beliefs and how to respect religious and personal objections when they arise. These religious injustices introduced a myriad of new bioethical considerations for the interreligious community to examine and relay back to the world. The Holocaust demonstrates what can happen when society allows scientific and societal progress to take priority over human dignity. Recognizing not only the atrocities of the Holocaust but the lessons one can learn from it allows religious leaders to be able to continuously adapt eternal religious values to everchanging challenges derived from increasing technological progress, thus providing necessary guidance to their followers.
15.5 The Importance of Diversity and Interfaith Initiatives in Education
Education can be an effective tool for reducing human suffering stemming from racism, diversity, and social prejudice. In the same courtyards and the same classrooms, utilizing the rich pedagogical means at his disposal and through the various courses she teaches, a teacher can not only bring her students face to face. She can also teach them to behold each other—to appreciate the spiritual stature of the other. Through education, we have the opportunity to identify the tendency for verbal bullying in youth and to prevent its repetition as an act of hatred later on in life.
We are united creatively as global citizens at a time when ideas which incite and stimulate passions are immediately spread through technology. Many terrorist attacks were planned on one continent and carried out on another. To produce ripe fruits for humanity, the effective cultivation of all the aforementioned aspects cannot be limited only to good intentions and occasional symbolic ceremonies but must proceed by utilizing all the tried and tested methodological means, technologies, and techniques of dialogue.
The following are four educational models that contribute to the work of the educator and the aims of an educational policy with a pluralistic orientation. The first is based on the multifaceted nature of the Holocaust as a case study, while the other three are based upon a tested three-pronged model of communication and understanding: Head-Heart-Hand.Footnote 15
15.5.1 The Holocaust as a Case Study
After the Holocaust, humanitarian values were revised internationally and are now considered self-evident rights. However, it is possible that another destructive genocide may occur HolocaustFootnote 16 (Pearce 2020) if we do not educate future generations about past violence or if we ignore current warning signs which show an escalation of violence and discrimination as one can readily witness from watching the news. The importance of developing and fostering a personal ethical code cannot be overstated. As noted by Gallin (2019, 11): “[…] using the Holocaust, the sole example of medically sanctioned genocide, as the historical framework for exploring current issues and anticipating future challenges in ethics offers a valuable educational perspective, one that underscores respect for the dignity of the human being above all else.”
The Holocaust provides a unique and timeless opportunity for humanity to learn how to safeguard and ensure a democratic environment of dignity, unconditional acceptance of others, and peaceful coexistence of peoples. However, this has unfortunately been undermined in many ways. Such a form of degradation is hidden in the ignorantly misleading tendency to narrow the spectrum of the Holocaust, describing it as an act exclusively against the Jewish community and its history (Gallin and Bedzow 2019). As remarked by Cohen et al. (2007, 257–258): “Case studies, in not having to seek frequencies of occurrences, can replace quantity […] Significance, rather than frequency, is a hallmark of case studies, offering the researcher an insight into the real dynamics of situations and people.” To gain an essential and meaningful perspective, the Holocaust must be studied with the individualized, qualitative methodology approach of a case study. This approach may coincide with the anniversary of an event of historical significance or remembrance (Kristallnacht, World Holocaust Day, etc.), and include survivor testimony (IHRA 2019, 28), a literary text, a film, etc.
The content of the message varies and extends beyond historical references to issues of contemporary relevance such as diversity and respect of all religions. Learners can consider the specific historical-social context in which the examined case occurred and compare it with familiar modern phenomena that tend to contain common features in their form and manifestation (Zapalska and Wingrove-Haugland 2016).
15.5.2 The Holocaust and the Head, Heart, Hand Educational Model Part One
The first part of the Head, Hand, Heart model focus on the Head, which references aims to build the whole cognitive background around the event in order to equip learners with all the spiritual tools to allow them to acquire critical thinking, both by learning how to gather and assess information of historical events (Foster 2020) and by recognizing and opposing flawed argumentation when confronted with ideas of a totalitarian or authoritarian nature.
Knowledge of the Holocaust, including the evolution of nationalist ideas, the methods used to degrade the dignity and diversity of the other, and the inescapable guilt that followed, is relevant to understanding the times we live in today. Often many forms of harassment, denigration of one’s neighbor, and denunciation or mockery of religious otherness (which may range from the dietary choices imposed by one’s religious culture to the use of a headscarf, bearing a cross, a kippa, or other symbol, etc.) begin in an individual or small-scale environment. If, however, society is in the midst of an unfortunate political moment or in the context of an economic or social crisis, these small-scale aggressions have the potential to take on catastrophic proportions (Philpott 2007).
At a secondary level, it is necessary to know the post-Holocaust reaction, because remembering what occurred during the Holocaust can serve the purpose of preventing it from occurring again. When students discuss the purpose of the UN’s founding, the decisions of the International Courts, and the creation of the Nuremberg Code of Ethics, and see how those events were influenced by and influenced interfaith communication, it will have a significant effect on the formation of a universal consciousness of acceptance of the other and function as a bulwark against any form of distortion of acquired values.
At a tertiary level, it is important not to exhaust the consolidation of all this knowledge and information within one’s educational life by focusing exclusively on relevant courses, but rather one should seek a multifaceted interdisciplinary approach through other courses with similar references, such as political education, sociology, art, literature, history, etc. (Michalski 2005). Also, as learning tends to become a lifelong commitment with many training seminars, it is equally important that all this information is recalled and disseminated from time to time on the occasion of anniversaries or events, either through the media or through information campaigns.
15.5.3 The Holocaust and the Head, Heart, Hand Educational Model Part Two
The purpose of the second portion of the Head, Heart, Hand Educational Model is to achieve empathy (Wood 2019) through the cultivation of reaction, awareness, and non-silence when citizens are faced with any form of violation of the acquired values inherited by the collective memory and evaluation of the Holocaust. Citizens themselves become the direct recipients of any observed deviation in the social, vocational, or even digital environment in which they exist. By expressing opposition and addressing collective bodies, an immediate reaction is effectively achieved before the individual event takes root. There is no more drastic deterrent for defending social justice and promoting social change than by developing alliances and defensive relations between social groups.
The awareness that is achieved through the actions of the educational Head model should not be buried in the inertia of understanding only historical events. Encouraging controversy, a willingness to react immediately and to engage, to express outright disapproval to those distancing themselves or denying any violation of the right to self-determination, otherness or deviation from the acquis of the international code, must be considered obligations to oneself and to the collective whole. Holocaust distortion and denial (Cohen-Almagor 2008), for example, are common practices of people who harbor extremist ideologies. By knowing what lies behind the alteration or apparent rejection of facts, the citizen can now understand how many acquired humanitarian values are at stake. However, understanding alone is not enough. One must also speak. On an individual level, this translates into the skill of being able to deconstruct and oppose prejudices using one's own democratic principles and representative characteristics, the one-sided thinking, selfishness, and intransigence, which are incompatible with respect for, and acceptance of the right to otherness.
In order for citizens to cultivate their courage in expressing their opinion, it is necessary to be introduced to the procedures followed in respective human rights violations either by international or official human rights bodies, by courts or even by individuals, as well as to role models—people who, by raising their stature and raising their voices, broke the silence and the display of tolerance in matters of individual dignity, diversity and human rights. At this point, one understands the importance of having representatives of religions, organizations, and social groups come together to produce joint statements with one voice that address discrimination or human rights violations, regardless of whether the matter at hand directly affects the individuals or groups.Footnote 17 The collective sense of responsibility necessitates that when the reputation and dignity of the other is affected, one must take a stand, because the threat of “today he, tomorrow it is my turn” will always hover.
15.5.4 The Holocaust and the Head, Heart, Hand Educational Model Part Three
Knowledge leads to expression, and expression leads to immediate action in this educational model. The goal of the third part of the Head, Heart, Hand model is action. Active mobilization at every level is essential: personal, professional, collective. The aim here is to practically promote the importance of diversity, interreligious communication, and human rights. Here education is called upon to activate alternative approaches, utilizing the combined benefits of so-called informal and non-normal education. With the variety and dynamics provided by this multiple learning strategy, in combination with the previous ones, a multifaceted and multidimensional scheme of transmitting knowledge and experiences is created.
The advantage of this educational approach is that the benefits learners gain have a lasting, life-long positive impact. The success of an educational model is not limited to the narrow duration of the instructor-learner relationship. Real success comes from lasting change that will creatively permeate the learner throughout his life. Such an example is that of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which presents “an ‘inclusive’ approach to the Holocaust, an approach that attracts adults and especially young people from a wide variety of (ethnic and religious) backgrounds” (van Driel 2003, 134).
An added benefit of this combined method is the opportunity given to the instructor for self-action, initiative of selection and connection of the educational purpose with the free expression of his or her personal experiences and perceptions, always integrated and focused on the predetermined educational purposes of the event. At the same time, the instructor will be confronted with a non-exclusively educational environment that will challenge him or her to fulfill his or her teaching objectives and achieve a cognitive result in a nontraditional setting.
The activities related to the purposes of the Hand educational model usually have the character of an extracurricular education or techno science education. Such might be a visit to a Holocaust Museum, a Genocide Memorial, a religious monument, a site where a symbolic work of art has been erected to commemorate the rights of vulnerable social groups or minorities, or a relevant film screening at a cinema.Footnote 18 They might not be places of classical, formal education, but they are places of broader education, where the formal teaching is consolidated in a freer environment, thus increasing the chances for learning assimilation of the pertinent subject. At the same time, the organization of artistic, literary, and digital events and teleconferences that have a multicultural and inter-religious character are considered necessary for the consolidation and dissemination of the taught values with clear messages so as to combat prejudices, violence, sexism, and social stigma.
In the case of the Holocaust, one cannot easily isolate which of the two characteristics of the Jewish people—their ethnicity or their faith—was more distressing to the Nazis. It certainly was both, and many events rotated around these foci. Observing the Holocaust as a multifaceted event can also teach us that no progress—no good—comes from anything and anyone who ignores the recognition of personal value and deprives individuals of the right to self-awareness, freedom of belief, and individuality in expression.
The ultimate goal is for the youth, as citizens of tomorrow, to take initiative and be an active part of any event or organization that encourages diversity, intercultural pluralism, and interfaith encounters and interactions. Likewise, educating individuals at an early age about courage of speech will cultivate morally responsible reactions to s violations of rights or values. This will positively impact society and help ensure a future where all people are treated with dignity and respect.
The milestone in the context of the Reformation and the creation of the Protestant Protest is the sealing of 95 theses by Luther on the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517.
Recently, a group of theologians has preferred to replace the term Counter-Reformation with that of the Roman Catholic Reformation. The importance of this change is mainly focused on releasing the fact from its genesis, as a reaction to the Reformation.
It is very characteristic of what Edmund Burke expressed in the Britain parliament observing the unicity of the new American Society: “A great revolution was happened—a revolution made, not by chopping and changing of power in any of the existing states, but by the appearance of a new state, of a new species, in a new part of the world. It has made as great as change in all the relations and balances and gravitations of power as the appearance of a new planet would in the system of the solar world” (Johnson 1897, 304–305).
For aspects of nationalism in the Orthodox Church and a deeper understanding of its current structure see Kitromilides (2014, 19–20).
See Official Documents of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, Encyclical of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, Crete 2016, § Ι.3, https://www.holycouncil.org/-/encyclical-holy-council?_101_INSTANCE_VA0WE2pZ4Y0I_languageId=en_US. Accessed December 10, 2020.
Speech of His All Holiness towards the Ukrainian people, July 26, 2008.
The Roman-Catholic Church was also invited but was not present. It expressed negativity towards the Ecumenical movement, as it is written in the Papal Encyclical Mortalium animos of 1928.
Ethics was not a stable codex of spiritual values that needed a theoretical agreement in order to be achieved, but, with the meaning that Ira Bedzow gives, was a commonly accepted value that we gain, which has to be praxis in order to achieve its goal: “intellectual virtues are not solely ‘states by virtue of which the soul possesses truth by way of affirmation or denial’; they also include how the knower relates to knowledge in terms of shaping his or her worldview and how that knowledge manifests in action […] the process of thinking, which could mean either accepting beliefs or transforming beliefs into knowledge, is similar to acting” (Bedzow 2014, 172).
In the Middle Ages, when these extreme anti-Jewish views were expressed, they had a greater weight than that given to them after the Nazi regime. However, they also had a lasting impact that has perpetuated anti-Semitism even to the present day.
See, for instance, the statement issued by the Bavarian Protestant Church in 1933 (Ericksen 2013, 4).
As noted by Fackenheim (1978, 246): “The murder camp was not an accidental byproduct of the Nazi empire. It was its essence”.
Such experiments included exposure to toxic substances, deadly diseases, high altitudes, and extreme temperatures. See Trials of war criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under control Council Law (Oct. 1946-Apr. 1949), 1(10), 92–896. https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/NT_war-criminals_Vol-I.pdf. Accessed 12 December 2020.
For the guilt as it was perceived after the Holocaust, especially from the French Roman-Catholics bishops, see Madigan (2009, 6–7).
According to Ariel (2013, 210): “The memory of the horrors that anti-Jewish incitements brought about in the 1930s and 1940s played an important role in enhancing the dialogue. For a number of Jewish and Christian leaders, reviving or enhancing efforts at dialogue corresponded with attempts at rehabilitating and normalizing Christian-Jewish relations at the wake of the traumas of the Holocaust”.
For more about this model of education, see Gazibara (2013). The reason we choose an educational approach based on this triptych is because it is a harmonious and historically consistent approach to the way of communication and coexistence tried in the confessional and interreligious dialogues.
Cf. Protopapadakis 2019, 15: “bioethics needs to regulate research, safeguard interests, set and prioritize principles, and define boundaries, always keeping one eye fixed on progress, and the other on the lines of Goethe’s Wizard’s Apprentice, so as to eliminate the gloomy possibility of a second Holocaust, or a sequel of Hiroshima.”.
One more interesting approach is the parallel presentation of facts with similar characteristics that took place in different parts of the world: for example, “through comparative storytelling and comparative spirituality in response to some of the defining events of the twentieth century – the struggle against colonialism, racism, sexism, terrorism, and the human capacity to inflict mass death revealed at Auschwitz and Hiroshima” (Fasching et al. 2011, 6).
Other examples include “programs operating in refugee camps, in post-conflict societies, with victims of domestic abuse, and with groups serving the poor” (Tibbitts 2002, 9).
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Maroudas, FF., Grigoriadis, B. (2022). Bioethics and the Holocaust in a Multicultural Context. In: Gallin, S., Bedzow, I. (eds) Bioethics and the Holocaust. The International Library of Bioethics, vol 96. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-01987-6_15
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